Reform: Calling Rhee (Biography) Out
Nearly everybody seems to like Richard Whitmire, the former USA Today editorial writer and EWA president whose biography of Michelle Rhee is just out this month, but Richard Kahlenberg of the Century Foundation says that the book has some serious problems (Waiting for Superwoman). And no, his focus is not just on economic integration. Writing in Slate, the gist of Kahlenberg's critique is that Whitmire (and the rest of the national media) are so enamored of the Rhee fairy tale that they fail to scrutinize the basic usefulness of her top-down, confrontational strategy and the true measure of her accomplishments as head of the DC public schools. Journalists fall for their subjects all the time -- think Jay Mathews (KIPP) and Paul Tough (Harlem Children's Zone). But Rhee is at the tip of the current school reform spear and Kahlenberg is doing a service by standing up and raising some worthwhile questions about whether Rhee's strategy works and what she did and didn't accomplish in DC.